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Turtle hatchlings are rescued

More than 30 baby Loggerhead turtles washed up on the Overstrand coastline and were handed over to the Two Oceans Aquarium in Cape Town.

According to Renée Leeuwner, spokesperson for the Two Oceans Aquarium in Cape Town, the facility receives, rehabilitates and releases turtles on a daily basis. Over the past few weeks a total of 31 turtles have been brought in from Gansbaai and Hermanus. “Unfortunately not all of them have made it, but the ones that have, are currently in our rehabilitation programme,” Leeuwner said. Turtles are brought in from as far as Plettenberg Bay to Muizenberg.

According to the Two Oceans Aquarium, one of the causes of turtles washing up is rough weather, stormy seas and the wind forcing the turtles out of the warm current and into the cold surrounding waters.

Leeuwner explains that turtles are reptiles, so their body temperature adjusts to the ambient temperature. “Once in the cold water, they become hypothermic and dehydrated because they stop eating. “While not actively swimming, they are pushed out onto our beaches.”

She says that the turtles are hatched on KwaZulu-Natal’s beaches. After hatching, they enter the water and drift along the warm ocean current. The current then carries them down towards the Western Cape coast. “This is a natural process,” said Leeuwner.

She says the Loggerhead turtles are an endangered species and about 1 in a 1 000 hatchlings make it to adulthood. “Every little turtle we can assist is one more possibility for the survival of the species,” Leeuwner points out. “These little turtles drift with the currents.”

She explains that turtles eat what is drifting around them. “More and more this is plastic, and more and more we are seeing tiny little turtles die because of plastic ingestion.”

She explains that preventing plastic in the ocean is up to the human consumer. “We need to reduce our dependency on plastic. What we do on land affects the ocean, irrespective of where we live.” The Two Oceans Aquarium urges people to recycle and look after the beaches to ensure the safety of ocean life.

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